What Is Calendula? Calendula Benefits And Uses Explained

Many of us have encountered calendula over the course of our lives. However, we rarely refer to the plant by this name. Most of us know calendula by its more popular moniker – the daisy or marigold flower. The calendula is thought to have originated in parts of Western Europe and the Mediterranean. But the plant has now spread to nearly every continent in the world.

Calendula has been an integral part of many cultures over the years. It’s been hailed as a powerful medicinal ingredient to treat a variety of different ailments and health issues. Calendula also holds a great deal of sacred value in Catholicism and Hinduism. It was even considered to be of great spiritual value for both the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The calendula plant has been hailed as an early signifier of the onset of spring. People used it to mark the turn from cold European winters to the warmer spring. It therefore became a symbol of happiness and joy around the world.

Calendula also has different culinary purposes. It’s a staple ingredient in a variety of different European dishes. It can also add color to otherwise standard dishes and layouts. While many people don’t usually include edible flowers in their dishes, doing so can turn an otherwise ordinary dish into something truly amazing and special.

But the benefits of the calendula plant are not merely superficial. This plant packs quite a surprising list nutritional benefits and phytochemical components that can do a great deal to improve our overall health and immune system. To find out more about how you can use this amazing plant, keep reading!

What Is Calendula? Where Does It Come From?

Woman standing in field of flowers and smelling a flower.

Calendula is also known as the pot marigold plant.

Calendula belongs to a genus of around 15-20 different plants. They’re all connected to the daisy, a plant most of us are familiar with due to its widespread growth. Calendula is also more commonly known as the pot marigold plant. It’s thought to be one of the most popular variations of the genus.

The name calendula can be translated from Latin as ‘little calendar’. The plant likely has this name because of its timeous bloom on the first day of each month during the spring and summer seasons throughout Europe.

Calendula comes from parts of Western Europe, the Mediterranean, and some parts of Southwestern Asia. Because the plant needs rich, porous soils to thrive in, it naturally favored these climates and in turn spread through the region quite quickly. Due to the plant’s value among early European societies and the health benefits it provided, Europeans quickly cultivated it. When the early European settlers started exploring, they brought the plant with them for medicinal reasons. This is likely how the plant spread to the Americas and elsewhere.

Because the plant grows quickly and it’s easy to cultivate en masse, it was a favorite of the early settlers. The plant was incredibly useful as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. People could use it both topically and in a healthy stew to fight infection and treat wounds. As far as early medicine goes, the calendula plant was a regular addition to a variety of different traditional remedies, and it still is today.

Health Benefits Of Calendula Explained

African American woman with clear skin.

Calendula oil can help you get clear skin.

As I mentioned, the health benefits of calendula have made it long favored by healers. The plant’s ability to be used both topically and in different dishes allows it to tackle inflammation both directly on the affected area. It can also help bolster your immune system.

The reason for its highly effective anti-inflammatory response is due to its high levels of sesquiterpenes, triterpene and flavanol glycosides. They act as nature’s little toxin killers and help to fend off the risk of infection. They kill germs or prevent the spread of them on the affected area as well as in your bloodstream.

Because every part of the plant is safe to eat, each part should be used in creating the remedy. This will increase the efficacy of the treatment and ultimately allow your wound or ailment to heal quicker.

The simplest way to use this plant is to crush the flowers, stem, leaves and root in a mortar and pestle. Then apply the paste directly to the wound or affected area. This helps release the plant’s potent phytochemicals, preventing the spread of infection.

Using this salve is likely to have good results when you need treatment quickly. However, using the plant as a dietary supplement or extracting the essential oil is the best effective form of treatment. It has a high concentration of the natural chemical compounds contained within the plant. However, because this process requires a lot of technical processing, it’s easiest to buy the essential oil.

The oil can even be used to treat everyday issues such as acne, cold sores and contact dermatitis. Because of this, people often add calendula oil to a number of different skin care products.

Calendula Oil Explained

Woman lying down with hair in towel covered in red petals.

One of calendula’s many purposes is for aromatherapy.

Calendula oil is a popular essential oil which can be used for many different purposes. For instance, it can treat psoriasis but can also be used to help reduce stress through the practice of aromatherapy and massage.

Some of calendula oil’s natural phytochemicals include bioactive flavonoids. Triterpene encourages the release of calcium in the body and has strong antioxidant effects on the blood system. And sesquiterpenes encourage the plant’s natural antioxidant effects. So we’re ultimately able to use the oil as a natural detoxifying agent and increase the amount of oxygen that our blood cells can hold. This improves our memory and concentration with regular use.

Like most essential oils, calendula oil is extracted through a process known as steam distillation. The plant is harvested (generally from the stem to the flowers, but sometimes the roots too) and then added to a large vat of boiling water. The vat is sealed and allowed to heat up to boiling point for up to 6 hours. During this heating process, the chemical compounds of the plant are broken down. As the chemical compounds separate, the steam is released in the airtight vat and carries them up.

This steam, now containing the rich phytochemical components of the plant, is carried to a separate cooling chamber. Here the steam condensates. The liquid that gathers in the cooling chamber is essentially the chemical-rich essential oil of the plant. This final product is highly concentrated – which is why you can often only buy essential oil in small amounts.

Essential oil is often a sold as an ingredient for a variety of different products such as creams, lotions, hair care or other personal products. Or you can use it on its own as part of alternative healing practices.

Calendula Cream Explained

As I mentioned in the previous section, the manufacturing of essential oils from various natural products is a highly popular practice. It’s through this process that we can extract the core elements of the natural product in a more concentrated form and develop a more malleable product which can then be used in the creation of a variety of different product types.

The use of calendula oil in the creation of a cream-based lotion is very popular and has been done since the early 20th century. Besides enhancing the scent of the cream, calendula oil has a number of different health benefits for our skin and joints. Because calendula has anti-inflammatory properties, the cream can help reduce the effects of psoriasis. It can also reduce the appearance of scars over time.

In a cream form, the oil has a base in which it can provide the skin with hydration and long-term protection from the elements over the course of the day. When using the cream, it and its various healthy phytochemicals are absorbed into our bloodstream, joints and muscles. Because of this, calendula oil’s anti-inflammatory properties have been know to help reduce the pain associated with osteoporosis, arthritis and muscle ache after exercising.

This makes calendula cream a natural favorite among older people or athletes. It’s safe to use on a regular basis without posing any threat to your overall health or your skin. Because calendula oil is a natural product, it’s free from many of the harsh petrochemicals that conventional creams tend to include. It can therefore prevent the build up of toxic free radical molecules in your bloodstream.

DIY Calendula Ointment For Eczema Treatment

Bowls with flowers and beaker with oil.

DIY calendula oil or ointment is actually pretty easy to make!

Treating a skin disorder like eczema can be a real challenge for a lot of people. Suffering from the often painful and unsightly issue is enough of a challenge unto itself. Yet finding a safe and effective treatment can be just as difficult. While many may rely on a conventional cream to help relieve symptoms, these can have negative effects on the long-term quality of your skin or health.

So it’s natural for us to seek out a healthier, more natural alternative. However, these tend to cost a lot of money as well. Thankfully, though, we have a healthy and easy-to-make DIY recipe that you can try out in the comfort of your own home.

How To Make Your Own Calendula Oil

If you don’t have calendula oil, making your own is quite simple. All you need to do is gather up 8-9 ounces (250 grams) of dried calendula flowers. Place them in a sealable glass jar and then fill the jar up with olive oil. Allow this oil to seep for roughly 1 full week, and turn the glass jar upside down twice, at least once a day. After the time has passed, you’ll have your own natural calendula tincture. The longer you allow the tincture to steep, the more potent it will be.

How To Make Your Own Calendula Ointment

You’ll need:

  • 4 ounces (30 ml) of calendula oil
  • ½ an ounces (or 15 grams) of beeswax
  • 20 – 25 drops of essential oil (calendula, lavender, rose or bergamot)
  • Sealable tin containers or a large plastic tupperware container with a sealable lid

In order to make the salve, simply heat some water to boiling point in a large pot. Then place a stainless steel bowl on top of the pot. Once the water starts boiling, place the beeswax in the bowl and allow it to melt. When the beeswax liquifies, stir in the calendula oil. You can also add some some fresh calendula flowers to the mixture. This will give the salve color and more texture. Once you stir in the calendula oil, add the essential oil to the mixture while you continue to stir.

After about 5 minutes of continual stirring, pour the mixture (while it’s still hot and in liquid form) into your container(s) and allow the salve to cool at room temperature. Once the liquid cools, you can store the mixture in your fridge or in a cool cabinet. Apply the salve topically whenever your eczema starts flaring up and the inflammation, redness and itchiness will soon disappear. The added benefit of this salve is that it acts as a mild sunblock. So not only will you keep your skin hydrated and free of inflammation, but you’ll also protect it from the elements.

Calendula Oil Side Effects and Allergy Explained

Pregnant woman using hands to make a heart on her stomach.

If you’re pregnant, check with a doctor before using essential oils.

While calendula oil is generally safe for everyone, there are a few things we would recommend that you pay attention to when using it. Make sure you know calendula oil’s side effects and potential allergy symptoms before using it. 

For instance, we always recommend that you avoid using essential oils of any variety if you’re pregnant (or at least consult a medical professional before doing so). Also, keep them away from children under the age of 8.

While essential oils are largely safer to use than most conventional pharmaceutical drugs, they’re still highly concentrated. They can therefore have a drastic effect on your child’s hormonal balance if you don’t use them correctly.

You should also be sure to use the oil in moderation at first. Apply a small amount to the surface of your skin over 3 days. This will help you determine whether or not you suffer from an allergy.

If you know that you have an allergy to ragweed or plants in the daisy family (this relates to the pollen as well), I would recommend that you stay away from the essential oil. An allergic reaction could have some pretty nasty side effects for you. However, this is quite rare among everyday users. So don’t let it discourage you from exploring this amazing natural product.

Conclusion

I added calendula oil to my essential oil collection a long time ago. The plant used to grow freely in my back garden and it fascinated me. Since doing so, I’ve had only positive results in my life. This is true especially with regards to treating topical skin issues and alleviating the early signs of infection. Using natural products daily is a great way to not only prevent the onset of illness and disease, but to also strengthen the quality of your health.

It’s time that we stop solely relying on conventional medicines to treat minor or lesser ailments. These medications often come with a long list of side effects that wind up being far worse than the original symptom itself. Finding the cause of the issue and dealing with it holistically is the best way to enjoy better health and a lifetime of good living.

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